Facebook Alternatives Are Fighting A Losing Battle

The “big 3” social networks have it made.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have firmly planted their roots, effectively garnering the lion’s share of people’s social media attention span—if there is such a thing. The trick, as it were, is all about being first.
First in establishing a strong digital presence, first in building up a large loyal audience, and most importantly, first in mind when people decide where to go to get their social media fix.

The big 3 have, in effect, become the “default” social choice for most people. They’ve galvanized their audience and built up substantial mind share many of the smaller social start-ups can only dream of replicating.

In fact the biggest challenge facing emerging social platforms like AppleseedOneSocialWeb, Elgg, and Diaspora continues to be fostering community growth. Luring people away from Facebook will only get harder as time goes on. It’s not enough for these competitors to tout a decentralized model, better privacy filtering, or a superior overall user experience.

The issue from my perspective is time, or rather lack of time, among people. Most of us have a finite block of time we spend each day engaging on social platforms. There are simply too many choices and too many smaller niche-oriented social communities cropping up and vying for our time. The response I routinely hear among people I connect with on Facebook and Twitter is, “really, who has time for yet another social platform —all my connections are already here.”

Personally speaking, I divide up my time between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and the occasional visit over to Quora. But I’m not so sure there’s room on my plate for any more networks. The thought of memorizing yet another set of username/password credentials is enough to spontaneously induce a migraine.

According to a recent Neilson study, Facebook users average 7 hours 45 minutes on Zuckerberg’s magnificent creation each month. Factoring in the overall time spent online is 30 hours 4 minutes each month, time largely divided up between Google (1 hour 47 minutes), Youtube (1 hour 41 minutes) and a 1/2 dozen or so other prominent networks; it becomes rather obvious the emerging social networks have their work cut out.